Monthly Archives: November 2012

It was a gritty campaign and it brought one last pivot for Barack Obama – the candidate who once promised the voters hope and change – as he appeared in Chicago to mark his victory. Amid a soaring speech about the US, he acknowledged that his job at the White House is to find jobs for others.

Andrew Hill

Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, says he wants to know “how the fans smell”: he walks the arena during the star’s show to get a sense of how they’re receiving the act. Phil Clarke, chief executive of Tesco, has set in motion a retraining scheme for the UK retailer’s managers called “Making Moments Matter”, preparing them for face-to-face contact with customers.

Yet both men work for organisations (if Gaga can be described that way) that have also pioneered the use of technology – the Little Monsters Gaga fan site, the Tesco loyalty ClubCard – that helps them know their customers and run their businesses more efficiently.

The mixed approach they advocate illustrates a theme that emerged strongly from this week’s FT Innovate conference, where both men spoke: how to put the personal touch back in technology? Or, as Aimie Chapple of Accenture summarised at one roundtable session: how do you add the love to Big Data? Read more

John Gapper

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Image by Getty

On the day of the US presidential election, we are witnessing a perfect antithesis of those who believe in intuition and those who trust in data. That has implications not only for political observers but for finance.

Nate Silver, the New York Times’ polling guru, who crunches the state and national polls and feeds them into a unified model that spits out a probability of who will be elected president, has Barack Obama as the 91.6 per cent favourite to win.

Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, feels something in the air: Read more

The saga of Florida’s “hanging chads”, which prolonged the disputatious US presidential race of 2000 well beyond polling day, also left corporate America hanging.

John Gapper

Standard and Poor's HQ. Image by Getty

The Australian court judgment against Standard & Poor’s for misleading investors in a complex, structured derivative is a worrying development for rating agencies that face growing legal risks.

The judge found S&P negligent in having accepted a false estimate of volatility given to it by ABN Amro, the issuing bank, and thus assigned the securities a triple-A rating in 2006. In practice, these securities collapsed in value within two years.

As Jayne Jagot, the judge in the case, ruled:

“S&P believed ABN Amro’s assertions that the actual average volatility of the Globoxx since inception was 15 per cent. S&P did not calculate the volatility for itself although it could easily have done so and, in my view, was required to do so as a reasonably competent ratings agency . . . This assumption as to volatility was unreasonably and unjustifiably low.”

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